FAQs about PEN and the Business of Editing
What is the Professional Editors Network?
PEN is a group of editors, writers, proofreaders, indexers, and other professionals, who all work with words.
In existence since 1984, PEN has about 125 members living around the U.S., but most live in Minnesota.
What does a professional editor offer?
An editor brings judgment, expertise, and imagination to a manuscript. A professional editor may hold an advanced
academic degree or have training in a specialized field. Most editors have spent years learning the nuances of grammar
and syntax, and use English with accuracy.
What types of service does a professional editor provide?
An editor may work on several levels to ensure that your writing is accurate, concise, and logical. The type of editing required depends on several factors: What is the manuscript's condition? What are the goals? How complex is the work? The level of editing affects the time the project will take. Defining the project's scope before it begins helps a professional editor stay within budget.
What are the levels of editing?
There are essentially three levels of editing: light (proofreading), medium (copyediting), and heavy (substantive).
Proofreading requires an editor to correct spelling and punctuation mistakes, obvious grammar and syntax errors,
and inconsistent usage. Most projects include proofreading.
Copyediting takes more time. At this level, the editor may review writing style, delete unnecessary words, substitute
new words for any that are misused or awkward, and make sure words convey the correct meaning. Also, the editor
may rearrange copy to create a more logical flow of ideas.
Substantive editing comes into play when a writer is having difficulty with a rough draft. The editor can help identify
areas where deeper revisions can make a difference. Among other things, the editor may suggest structural changes,
create a new outline, propose additions or deletions, or insert readability aids. At this level, the editor may also ask
you to rewrite portions of the material.
In what ways does professional editing benefit a project?
Increases clarity by asking basic questions, including Is anything missing? Can some things be restated?
Will everyone understand this?
Saves time and effort yet gets the job done. After finishing a draft, you may lack the patience or objectivity to revise it.
But a professional editor approaches your manuscript with fresh eyes, an open mind, and the will to finish the task.
Saves money. Yes, hiring an editor costs money. But you'll save money over the long term because an editor's
experience reduces reading time and increases productivity.
Presents you accurately. Careful editing ensures that the picture formed in the readers' minds is one you intend,
not one that emerges accidentally.